The Do’s & Don’ts of Salary Negotiation

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Getting a job offer is always great news. Salary negotiation, on the other hand, is seen by most as a daunting task. Negotiating your salary should not be seen as demanding money, it is simply a discussion that should take place before an agreement is reached. It is part of the hiring process, yet many people won’t even consider having this conversation with their interviewer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working out a new job offer, or you’re currently employed and want to climb echelons. Negotiating your salary — or working on getting a raise — is healthy and it helps set expectations for the future, for both you and your employer. It’s no secret that a happy employee will perform better.

As this Forbes article mentions, everyone has different expectations and requirements. What is more important to you? Paid vacation time, or a bigger paycheck? Maybe a great benefits package?


Here are 3 important questions you should answer before even attempting to negotiate your salary:

  • What is the salary range for your industry and the position you’re seeking to fill?
  • What skills are you bringing to the table?
  • What is the lowest salary you would be comfortable with? And what is your target number?

With those answers in hand, there are some things to keep in mind when the time has come to negotiate how much you will be compensated for your work. Here are 10 do’s and don’ts of salary negotiation.

1. Don’t accept less than what you’re comfortable with

Even though the position might be exciting, if you’re not comfortable with the salary, it won’t be long before you start looking into better paying jobs. Getting an interview is difficult enough that you probably don’t want to settle for less than you’re worth, and you certainly don’t want to go through the whole process again a few months later.

2. Don’t talk about how much money you “need

Your future employer does not need to know about your monthly bills. It’s a no-brainer. Instead of talking about how much you need to make ends meet, focus on your strengths, your experience and the skills you bring to the table. You’re a professional after all, and talking about your personal issues will only reduce your chances of landing the job. Your personal finances don’t have a place when it comes to salary discussions.

3. Don’t inflate your current salary

Don’t assume your interviewer doesn’t know your current salary. HR departments often do reference calls before scheduling interviews with candidates, and some may even ask for a copy of a your W-2 or a recent pay stub. Almost every position in any industry has salary ranges, and your interviewer surely knows what the range is for the position you’re seeking to fill. Do not inflate your salary in the hopes of earning more. You don’t want to start your new job with a lie.

4. Don’t push your luck

While it may be tempting to ask for more than your salary range, do not ask for an astronomical number. Keep it realistic, or else the negotiations may come to a halt if you cannot justify why you’re asking so much. Stay within your industry’s salary range. It’s definitely OK to aim for the higher end of the pay scale though.

5. Don’t say yes right away

A job offer is not something you should take lightly, the same goes for salary negotiation. It is common practice to ask your interviewer for some time to think it through and run numbers on your end. It also gives you time to come up with a counter-offer in the event the offer was not to your satisfaction. Make certain you weigh the pros and cons and confirm the salary and benefits meet your requirements and expectations.

6. Do ask about raises and performance reviews

Even if the offered salary is satisfying, it’s important to ask about performance reviews and raises. How and when should you ask? The pay echelon may work for you right now, but that doesn’t mean it will next year. You will want to get a raise at some point. Asking about reviews and raises also demonstrates you’re driven and you know what you’re worth.

7. Do prove your worth

Prior to negotiating your salary, make certain you have a list of your wins. Did you complete some important projects at your current job or position? Did you help increase sales, manage a team? The agreed salary should be satisfying to both parties. You require adequate compensation, and your employer needs to know you can deliver, help move the company forward, and attain (or surpass) goals.

8. Do consider other factors such as benefits

Salary is definitely an important factor when you’re considering a job offer, but what about other perks like vacation time, medical, or insurance? In many cases employees will accept a lower pay if a company offers a great benefits package. Know what is more important to you, and decide accordingly.

9. Be prepared to walk away

Interviewers are masters at screening candidates and they will sense if you’re desperate for a job. Being prepared to walk away from a job offer gives you incredible power. You know what you’re worth and by now your interviewer should too. Stay confident (but not overly confident) and if the negotiations are not satisfactory, it is never too late to walk away. It may help move the negotiations forward, or you may go home empty handed, and back to job hunting – for a more fitting position. Either way, you win.

10. Do get the offer in writing

It would be a shame to have gone through all this back and forth only to not get this in writing. Ensure that your official job offer includes everything that has been discussed – including salary and benefits. Did you negotiate a signing bonus? It needs to be on the offer. Vacation time? How many weeks per year?

According to FastCompany, 49% of job candidates never negotiate an initial employment offer. Salary negotiation is not easy, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

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